Alexei Filippenko

Alex filippenko2
is an American astrophysicist and professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. Filippenko graduated from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA

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AlexFilippenko227 karma

Yeah, right -- you wish! But I'm really glad that you enjoyed my class. I love teaching it -- in fact, I would say that it's my favorite class, because it allows me to bring astronomy to a lot of students who didn't have any previous interest in the subject, or even in science. Go Bears!

AlexFilippenko224 karma

I urge you to find a profession that you really love, that you're passionate about, almost like a hobby... and it need not mean that you're making a lot of money. As I tell the students in my introductory astronomy class at UC Berkeley: If you spend every hour waiting for the day to end, and every day waiting for the weekend, and every week waiting for vacation, and every year waiting for retirement, what good is that? You're spending a major fraction of your life doing something that you don't like, that's not fun. Instead, to the degree possible. do something that brings you happiness and fulfillment. This worked really well for me, and I hope it will for you.

AlexFilippenko214 karma

Let the questions pi throwing begin!


AlexFilippenko172 karma

Try to go out to the Sierra Nevada range around the time of new moon, and you will be treated to a truly spectacular sight. The skies there are really dark, and you're above the haze, so you can see a lot of faint stars. If you're not able to drive that far, then I suggest Pt. Reyes National Seashore, about 1-1.5 hours drive. It's the darkest place I know withing a short driving distance from the SF Bay Area.

AlexFilippenko168 karma

Cool that you took my class a few years ago! Yes, a LOT has happened since then. I think two of the most notable discoveries have been the huge number of exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars, as you know) found by the Kepler spacecraft, and the recent BICEP2 result that provides evidence for an early "inflationary" epoch that can be thought of as giving the "bang" to the "big bang." (Of course, the latter discovery still needs to be verified with other, independent measurements, so stay tuned!)

AlexFilippenko123 karma

Just got back online, I am reading through the questions now. I apologize for the delays, I have been flying a bit. (Pi in the Sky!)

AlexFilippenko117 karma

Yes, it's sensationalized to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the show. This is done to make the material more flashy, more exciting, and thus attract potential viewers. If someone is flipping channels once every 7 seconds, they are more likely to stop and watch an astronomy documentary if the show seems really interesting. To survive, these shows need a wide audience, not just people who are already interested in science.

AlexFilippenko116 karma

I'm glad you enjoy "The Universe" series and my contributions to it!

I don't make significant money from The Universe and the many other documentaries on which I appear, contrary to what many people may think. My travel expenses are covered, and occasionally I get a minimal honorarium for the time I've invested, but I don't get paid. I do it pro-bono, as a form of educational outreach. That being said, research is expensive, and I'm always very grateful for any financial donations to my research. Please contact me if you are interested in contributing.

AlexFilippenko115 karma

I enjoy life and science, and educating people about science -- especially astronomy.

AlexFilippenko112 karma

Thank you for all of the questions and please keep them coming! I am reading through now, and I apologize for the delay.